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  • Mann steht auf einem hohen Berg und schaut zur Sonne

    How we grow

    Major life events like getting married, having a baby, or starting to work are widely believed to shape or even change people’s personalities. Researchers analyzing data from the study “Living in Germany” have found that this is only partly true.

    Marriage, for example, does not make people as happy as one might think. The “honeymoon phase” ends after about a year, and spouses end up being approximately as satisfied or dissatisfied as they were before. Separation, on the other hand, can have positive long-term impacts in that it makes people stronger.

    And after becoming parents, people’s lives are turned upside down, but their personalities change very little. “In fact, we mature more after our first job change than we do after the birth of a first child,” says Eva Asselmann, Professor of Differential and Personality Psychology at the HMU Health and Medical University in Potsdam, who conducted the analyses. You can find out more in her book Woran wir wachsen (“How we grow”).

     

    Further information

    Zeit Online: Der erste Job lässt uns mehr reifen als das erste Kind


    Book Tip:

    Eva Asselmann, Martina Pahr: Woran wir wachsen: Welche Lebensereignisse unsere Persönlichkeit prägen und was uns wirklich weiterbringt. – Die neuesten Erkenntnisse aus der Persönlichkeitspsychologie: Ariston, 2022

    All results in the overview

    Photo by Gaurav K on Unsplash

  • Teen from behind with head bowed

    Adolescence

    Looking back, people often remember their teenage years as a happy time full of new adventures, friends, and freedom. But according to a recent study based on data from “Living in Germany” and another long-term survey in the UK, many teenagers experience this phase of life quite differently. The study shows that life satisfaction declines more between the ages of 10 and 14 than in any other phase of life. The research team, led by psychologist Amy Orben from the University of Cambridge, believes that this may be due to an increase in social insecurity or uncertainty during puberty.

     

    Further information

    Welt: Wieso die Zufriedenheit im Alter von 10 bis 24 Jahren so niedrig ist

    The Royal Society: Trajectories of adolescent life satisfaction

    All results in the overview

    Photo by Jesús Rodríguez on Unsplash

  • Großvater trägt Enkelin auf dem Arm

    Grandchild care

    Grandparents play an important role in the everyday life of many young families: They play with their grandchildren, take them to the doctor, and help with homework. A recent study using data from “Living in Germany” shows that this has not changed even after the increase in the number of daycare spots.

    According to the study, while 9 out of 10 preschool-aged children in Germany are enrolled in daycare, grandparents provide additional care for one in two children under the age of 6. And grandparents care for between 20 and 40 percent of all girls and boys under the age of 10 on a regular basis.

    When grandparents help with childcare, it’s mothers who benefit most: They feel much more satisfied with their childcare situation and with their free time. “And that in turn has a positive effect on the children,” says Katharina Spieß, director of the Federal Institute for Population Research (BiB), which led the study.

     

    Further information

    Süddeutsche Zeitung: Nicht ohne Oma und Opa

    DIW Berlin: Großeltern bleiben trotz Kita-Ausbaus wichtig für Kinderbetreuung

    All results in the overview

    Photo by Isaac Quesada on Unsplash

  • Manager explaining with a staff member

    People in leadership positions

    People in leadership positions often have more influence and prestige but also more responsibility and stress than other employees. In terms of personality, they often differ from others even before taking the leap into leadership. Leaders aren’t born—they develop over time, often starting long before they take on a leadership role,” says Eva Asselmann,

    one of two psychologists who analyzed data from the study “Living in Germany” to find out exactly how people become leaders. Asselmann and her colleague Jule Specht analyzed data on nearly 2,700 leaders and 33,700 non-leaders

    and found that in the years before entering leadership, leaders are more extroverted, open, emotionally stable, conscientious, and willing to take risks than non-leaders. They also believe more strongly that they have control over their own lives, and they place more trust in other people.

    These characteristics gradually return to baseline levels after individuals take on a leadership role. But self-esteem continues to increase in leaders over the long term.

    Further information

    Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin: You are not born to be a leader

    All results in the overview

    Photo by CoWomen on Unsplash

  • Older woman sitting at the radiator checking a bill

    Rising energy prices

    The German government has invested almost 24 billion euros in relief measures to counter rapidly rising energy prices due to the war in Ukraine. The money is going toward increased social welfare benefits, reduced gas taxes, and a heavily discounted monthly public transport pass. But are these measures actually offsetting the increased costs?

    As data from the study “Living in Germany” show, the increase in energy prices is placing the most severe burden on poorer households. For the poorest 10 percent of the population, the costs of electricity, heat, and fuel will eat up 6.7 percent of net income in the next 12 to 18 months. These households will receive 3.7 percent of that back in the form of government relief, leaving them with an energy burden of 3 percentage points. leaving them with an energy burden of 3 percentage points.

    For the richest 10 percent of households in Germany, energy costs will only consume an additional 2 percent of net income. They will receive 0.7 percent of that back in government relief, leaving them with an energy burden of just 1.3 percentage points.

    “There is a lot to be said for not reducing the tax burden on higher income earners, and in the medium term, for raising taxes on very high incomes and assets,” says economist Stefan Bach of DIW Berlin, who carried out the study with his colleague Jakob Knautz.

    Further information

    DIW Berlin: High energy prices: Poor households most heavily burdened despite relief packages

    Handelsblatt: Federal government relief packages for high energy prices: The wrong people benefit

    All results in the overview

  • Frau steht am Straßenrand und hält sich ihr Shirt vor die Nase

    Better air quality in cities

    In Umweltzonen dürfen nur schadstoffarme Fahrzeuge unterwegs sein. So wird für eine gute Luftqualität und damit auch die Gesundheit der Anwohnerinnen und Anwohner gesorgt. Und dennoch sinkt durch die Einführung solcher Zonen zunächst deren Lebenszufriedenheit. Das zeigt eine Analyse auf Basis der der Studie „Leben in Deutschland“.

    „Die Anwohnerinnen und Anwohner brauchen etwa vier bis fünf Jahre, um sich an die Umweltzonen zu gewöhnen“, sagt die DIW-Forscherin Nicole Wägner. Den Grund dafür sieht sie in den Lebensumständen. Denn Menschen, die wegen einer Umweltzone weniger mobil sind oder für den Kauf eines schadstoffarmen Autos tief in die Tasche greifen müssen, fällt es schwerer diese zu akzeptieren.

    Vor allem Menschen unter 65 Jahren und Dieselfahrer sind zunächst weniger zufrieden, wenn eine Umweltzone eingeführt wird. „Jüngere Menschen haben ein größeres Mobilitätsbedürfnis und müssen öfter mit dem Auto zur Arbeit fahren. Für Dieselfahrzeuge gelten in Umweltzonen strengere Standards als für Benziner“, erklärt Co-Autor Luis Sarmiento vom Mailänder Forschungsinstitut RFF-CMCC.

    Weitere Informationen

    DIW Berlin: Trotz besserer Luft: Umweltzonen verschlechtern temporär Lebenszufriedenheit der AnwohnerInnen

    Alle Ergebnisse in der Übersicht

  • Young and older man fishing

    Taxes and transfers

    Relationships are all about give and take, and so is the one between the government and the people. In childhood, people are on the receiving end of government services such as school and daycare. When they reach working age, they have to start giving back by paying taxes. In old age, the relationship flips again, and the government pays their pensions.

    How exactly this give-and-take evolves over the life course depends on where people live and what kind of education they have. There are also differences between men and women.

    Researchers at the German Economic Institute (IW) in Cologne have developed an interactive graphic based on data from the study Living in Germany that shows what these relationships look like in detail.

    Further information

    Frankfurter Allgemeine: Wer den Staat finanziert und wer profitiert

    All results in the overview

    Photo by Federico Giampieri on Unsplash

  • young adult writes something on a blackboard

    Learning German

    Refugees face numerous challenges starting over in a new place. Many had to flee their homes in a hurry, so they arrived in Germany without a job or housing, and also without knowing the language. “Many refugees start out living in collective accommodations where they have little contact with German speakers. In the beginning, they don’t have many opportunities to learn the language,” says sociologist Cornelia Kristen, who is conducting research on language learning among refugees based on data from Living in Germany.

    She says that compared to other new immigrants, more refugees enroll in language classes, with almost three-quarters taking a German class. And the classes pay off. Despite starting off knowing less German than other immigrants, refugees improve rapidly in their first year and after about four years, they speak German just as well as other immigrants. These and other findings from the study by Cornelia Kristen and her team have been published as a DIW Berlin Wochenbericht (in German).

     

    Further information

    DIW Berlin: Geflüchtete lernen Deutsch am effektivsten in Sprachkursen

    Obermain Tagblatt: Sprachkurse sind für Geflüchtete am effektivsten

    All results in the overview

    Photo by Monstera von Pexels

  • Woman standing in front of a house with arms spread out

    The dream of home ownership

    Around 70 percent of adults between the ages of 18 and 40 dream of owning their own home. But are people who have achieved this dream actually happier? Researchers at the Institute of Labor Economics (IZA) answered this question with the help of data from the study “Living in Germany”.

    Based on data from more than 800 homeowners, the researchers found that owning a home did indeed lead to greater life satisfaction. However, home ownership did not make people as happy they had previously predicted. The discrepancy between predicted life satisfaction and actual life satisfaction after buying a home was especially large among “status seekers”—people who value money and success relatively highly.

     

     

    Further information

    WirschaftsWoche: Macht der Hauskauf wirklich glücklich?

    IZA Newsroom: Positiver Glückseffekt des Eigenheims wird offenbar überschätzt

    All results in the overview

    Photo by Avin Ezzati on Unsplash

  • Frau und Mann mittleren Alters füllen ein Formular aus

    Who does what to prepare for old age?

    Few can afford to invest in real estate, and there is no guarantee that government pension funds will be able to cover younger generations when they retire. A study based on data from “Living in Germany” and published by ZEIT online shows how people in Germany are providing for old age instead.

    According to the study’s findings, men are more likely to invest for retirement than women, and academics and higher earners are more likely to invest in financial assets and insurance than others.

    In addition, they ways people prepare for retirement depend on their age: Almost half of people over the age of 51 have financial investments such as stocks, savings bonds, or investment certificates, whereas younger people tend to rely on pension insurance.

    People in the former East Germany also tend more to rely on pension insurance than those in the West, with 36 percent in the East and 33 percent in the West holding pension or life insurance policies. This could be because people in the former East Germany have fewer alternatives, as they are less likely to own real estate than people in the former West.

    Further information

    Zeit Online: Wer sorgt wie fürs Alter vor?

    All results in the overview

  • Roboter mit Tablet

    Smart Machines

    When people hear the term “artificial intelligence” (AI), they often think of smart robots in a distant future. Yet many people are already using AI in their work today—but without knowing it. These are among the findings of a recent study published as a DIW Berlin Wochenbericht based on data from Living in Germany.

    According to the study, only 20 percent of those surveyed answered “yes” to the direct question of whether they had come into contact with AI at work. However, almost twice as many respondents answered “yes” to indirect questions about AI—for instance, whether they used functions such as speech recognition or automated image processing at work on a daily basis. This shows that many people are unaware that AI is already part of their everyday working lives.

    For many, the topic of AI is linked to the question of whether automation will eliminate jobs. “AI-based systems are being developed to replace some tasks that humans can do,” said DIW researcher Alexandra Fedorets, “they will take over some of the tasks, but by no means all.”

     

    Further information

    DIW Berlin: Künstliche Intelligenz ist für viele Erwerbstätige bereits Teil der alltäglichen Arbeit

    ftd.de: Viele arbeiten mit KI, ohne es zu wissen

    All results in the overview

     …

  • Woman caring for elderly gentleman with cane, she supports him and carries his shopping bag

    Low-income workers need supportive care services six years earlier

    New analyses based on data from the study Living in Germany show that people with lower incomes have a higher risk of needing supportive care and nursing services. Men at risk of poverty are likely to need care almost six years earlier than higher-earning men, while women need care around three and a half years earlier.

    Occupation also plays a role. On average, blue-collar workers need supportive care and nursing services about four years earlier than civil servants. In addition, men and women with high-stress jobs need supportive care and nursing services on average 4.7 and 2.7 years earlier, respectively.

    “In Germany, there is social inequality not just in income and life expectancy, but also in the risk of needing care,” says DIW expert Peter Haan, who worked with colleagues from the SOEP in conducting the study.

    Further information

    FAZ.net: Ärmere werden häufiger und früher pflegebedürftig

    DIW Berlin: Ärmere Menschen werden häufiger und früher pflegebedürftig als Besserverdienende

    All results in the overview

  • Woman with an apron pushes a cart with towels

    Higher Wages

    The likely future coalition partners in the German government—SPD, Greens, and FDP—want to raise the statutory minimum wage to 12 euros per hour in their first year as governing coalition. This could benefit women in particular, as well as people working in retail, catering, healthcare, and building maintenance. These findings are the result of a study by researchers from the Hans Böckler Foundation’s Institute of Economic and Social Research (WSI) based on data from Living in Germany and the Federal Statistical Office.

    According to the study, 7.3 million people currently earn less than 12 euros an hour in their main job and another 1.3 million in a second job. Of these approximately 8.6 million people who would benefit from an increase in the minimum wage, around two-thirds are women.

     

    Further information

    Frauen, Einzelhandel, Gastronomie: Wer besonders von der Anhebung des Mindestlohns profitieren würde

    Rund 8,6 Millionen Beschäftige verdienen aktuell weniger als 12 Euro in der Stunde – vor allem in Jobs ohne Tarifvertrag

     

    All results in the overview

  • older woman sitting at a table with a laptop

    Working in Retirement

    Some people can hardly wait to retire while others would never consider it. In fact, more and more people are continuing to work after retirement: While 3.3 percent of those over the age of 64 were still working in 2005, 7.8 percent were still working in 2019.

    But are people working in retirement due to financial need, as is commonly believed? Holger Schäfer, an economist at the German Economic Institute in Cologne, has come to a different conclusion based on an analysis of data from Living in Germany. If retirees were working because they needed the money, their pensions would have to have extremely low— but as Schäfer’s analysis shows, this is not the case.

    The results of other studies also suggest that financial motives play a subordinate role. “Previous studies have shown that people enjoy working and being in contact with others, and that this is more important to them than the extra money,” says Holger Schäfer.

    Further information

    Einkommen: Arbeitende Rentner haben überdurchschnittlich viel Geld

    Warum Rentner arbeiten gehen

    All results in the overview

    Photo Anna Shvets on Pexels

  • two women put food in bags

    Making a Difference Through Volunteer Work

    Many organizations and initiatives depend on volunteers –  from sports clubs to volunteer fire departments to refugee aid projects. According to the results of a new study based on data from Living in Germany, currently around one in three people in Germany is involved in volunteer work, and the percentage is rising. People in rural areas are especially active in volunteer activities.

     Volunteerism is higher in more prosperous regions, where the level of education is high and unemployment is low. “In structurally weak rural regions, on the other hand, efforts need to be made to catch up,” says SOEP researcher Luise Burkhardt, who conducted the study together with a colleague at the Thünen Institute. In these regions, migration and population aging as well as a lack of digital infrastructure make it difficult for people to pursue volunteer activities.

    It is striking that volunteerism is more common among men than women. he researchers suspect that the reason could be a persistence of traditional gender roles in rural areas, where women are often still more involved in childcare and housework.


    Further information

    Ehrenamtliche in sehr ländlichen Gegenden besonders engagiert – Männer aktiver als Frauen

    All results in the overview

    Ismael Paramo on Unsplash

  • Mother greets her child

    Most mothers want to work

    Mothers in Germany would like to work more than they are currently able to in many cases. This is among the key findings of a study conducted by economist Wido Geis-Thöne at the German Economic Institute (IW) based on data from “Living in Germany.”

    According to the study, one in four mothers between the ages of 25 and 54 was not currently working. But only 12 percent of these mothers said that this was what they wanted.

    Mothers with small children under the age of three have a particularly hard time pursuing their career goals: Almost 69 percent of these mothers were not employed, but only 27 percent of them said this was what they wanted.

    Why is this the case? “Mothers with children often have more limited job search options. Long commutes are impossible for them, meaning that they have a harder time finding a suitable job,” says Geis-Thöne. Or, he hypothesizes, “they want to work more hours but are only available to work at times that don’t suit the employer.”


    Further information

    Süddeutsche Zeitung: Warum viele Mütter nicht arbeiten – obwohl sie wollen

    Institut der deutschen Wirtschaft: Mütter haben unterschiedliche Erwerbswünsche und erwerbsbezogene Normen

    All results in the overview

    Sai De Silva on Unsplash

  • A Muslim woman wearing a headscarf walks past billboards for some of the party candidates in the upcoming state election in Bavaria.

    Hesitancy to form party attachments

    With just a few weeks to go before Bundestag elections, Germany’s political parties are canvassing for votes. They are also interested in gaining long-term supporters. As an analysis of data from the study “Living in Germany” shows, people with an immigrant background tend to have a weaker party identification than non-immigrants. According to the study, half of immigrants report no long-term partisan attachments, whereas this is true for just one-third of the population overall. According to the SOEP research team, one reason could lie in the fact that immigrants first have to gather experience with the different political parties before developing stronger party attachments over time.

    Among immigrants, long-term party attachment differs by country of origin. Immigrants from Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union tend to identify more with the CDU/CSU, while immigrants from Southern Europe and Turkey tend to identify more with the SPD. A disproportionately large number of immigrants from Western countries (USA, Switzerland, Netherlands, France) identify with Bündnis 90/Die Grünen, and immigrants from Serbia identify more with Die Linke.


    Further information

    Spiegel: Wie Zugewanderte die Wahl mitentscheiden könnten

    DIW Berlin: Eingewanderte bauen zögerlich Bindungen an Parteien in Deutschland auf

    All results in the overview

    Photo by Marcin Jozwiak on Unsplash

  • Mother and infant in a stretcher

    How trust influences vaccination readiness

    When social trust is high, people are more inclined to collaborate—even in crisis situations. This mechanism has been at work during the pandemic, according to results of a special survey of more than 12,000 participants in the long-term study “Living in Germany”.

    According to this special survey on life in Germany during COVID-19, trust has been high during the pandemic. In fact, social trust increased between February 2020 and June 2021. The results show how important trust has been in overcoming the pandemic: People with higher trust in others are more likely to get vaccinated against COVID-19. They are also more likely to follow COVID-19 rules such as “keep a safe distance,” “wash your hands,” and “wear a mask.”


    Further information

    DIW Berlin: Corona-Pandemie: Vertrauensvolle Menschen sind eher zur Impfung bereit und halten sich eher an AHA-Regeln

    All results in the overview

    Photo by Marcin Jozwiak on Unsplash

  • Woman with toddler

    Parental leave increases children’s well-being over the long term

    In early May 1986, the East German government introduced a policy reform that some people are still benefiting from today. Both mothers and fathers were allowed to take twelve months of paid parental leave from the date of their child’s birth. Previously, most parents had to return to work when their children were five months old, which meant that the children were placed in daycare.

    According to a study by researchers at the ifo institute based on data from the study “Living in Germany”, the effects of the reform are evident in the children, who are now in their early to mid-thirties. the effects of the reform are evident in the children, who are now in their early to mid-thirties.

    Children who spent their first year of life exclusively in the care of their own parents are eight percentage points more satisfied today than those who were sent to daycare at the age of five months.


    Further information

    Business Insider Germany: Children whose parents spent longer on parental leave are happier as adults – long-term study shows

    ifo Dresden: Longer paid parental leave makes children happier later on

    All results in the overview

    Photo by Andriyko Podilnyk on Unsplash

  • Educator sits in hallway of a daycare center

    Overworked and undervalued

    Pre-school educators are essential, not just for families but for society as a whole, as almost everyone would agree. Nevertheless, pre-school educators still contend with difficult working conditions.

    According to a new study based on data from “Living in Germany”, 80 percent of pre-school educators feel they are underpaid. But it’s not just this feeling that creates stress: About 75 percent also report high time pressures and a heavy workload. Many also rate their chances of promotion as poor. In addition, around 70 percent complain about a lack of recognition from their superiors.

    “During the Corona pandemic, the stresses on educators have increased even further,” says DIW education expert Katharina Spieß, who conducted the study together with her colleague Ludovica Gambaro. Given that increasing numbers of parents were able to place their children in emergency daycare over the course of the pandemic, pre-school educators were responsible for approximately the same number of children during the pandemic as they were under normal conditions. Simultaneously, educators had the added burden of following hygiene regulations. The stress was compounded by worries about their own health.


    Further information

    Around 80 percent of educators think their salary is too low

    DIW Berlin: Eight out of ten nursery school teachers in Germany feel burdened by inadequate salaries

    All results in the overview